Braenor knelt on the stone floor, closed his eyes, and began his prayers. The words meant nothing to him, but their pattern and structure brought peace to his mind.
Monks and other holy men moved passed him without as much as a glance. The pre-dawn service had ended but even as the blessed and devote men shuffled out Braenor knelt, rocking back and forth slowly, saying the meaningless words, drawing peace from them.
Finally the small chapel was empty of people but heavy with the smells of burning candles and incense. Braenor breathed in the atmosphere and finished his pattern, confident that he could make it back to his cell without encountering anyone.
He stood and moved back out of the chapel into the high ceiling corridors that took him back to his room. He counted the steps along the way, turned at the prescribed count, making his way along. A monk passed him on his third stretch of corridor, on step one hundred and twelve.
Three years ago the passing of a monk or anyone else would have set Braenor off, would have set him loose. On this day, the prayers, the steps, the pattern, they were all he had and they kept his mind focused and he passed the monk with barely a hitch in his pattern.
The door to his cell opened with familiar creaks and scrapes and Braenor entered. Still several hours before first light, the room was lit by a single thick candle, which sat on a small table next to the cot. There was little else in the room, a chair sat near the table, a chest at the foot of the cot. A book lay on the bed and a water basin in the corner.
None of these things concerned Braenor.
Resting against the candle was a small tan envelope. The candlelight danced off of it and beaconed to Braenor, calling him into the room.
Braenor entered and slammed the door shut behind him. The palsy began to reform in the recesses of his mind. He stepped to the cot and sat down, his eyes never wavering from the envelope.
There was only one person who knew where he was, only one person who know how to contact him.
And there was but a single reason for him to be contacted.
Braenor knew what the note said without reading it, but he had to read it. As he reached for it his left eye began to twitch.
In a moment the letter was open, and discarded. The three words he had steeled himself against these years past lay on the paper, on the hard floor at his feet.
Braenor tried to compose himself, reciting his prayers, but they did not have the same effectiveness now.
Taking a deep breath he picked up the note and read it again and then tossed it onto the table. He stood up and shrugged off the robes he had worn for the past years.
Slowly opening the chest he peered inside with dread and then resigned himself to the inevitability of it all.
With a slight, almost imperceptible twitch returning to his left eye, he very slowly began to don his armor and weapons.
A mirth-free smile of relief crept across his face.
It is Time.